February 24, 2024

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Adoption of AI to Identify Buildings for Disaster Preparedness in the US

U.S Researchers from the National Science Foundation’s SimCenter built the Building Recognition using AI at Large-Scale (BRAILS) suite of tools.  BRAILS is an AI-enabled software to assist regional-scale simulations that extracts information from satellite and street view images for being used in computational modelling and risk assessment of the built environment.

BRAILS creates enhanced building databases for cities by running artificial intelligence-powered simulations on high-performance computers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). The researcher says that they want to simulate the impact of hazards on all of the buildings in a region, but they don’t have a description of the building attributes. Therefore, they use AI to get the needed information. They can train neural network models to infer building information from images and other sources of data.

The researchers have two objectives which are damage mitigation and real scenario simulation. First, they mitigate the damage in the future by doing simulations and providing results to decision and policy-makers. Second, they use this data to quickly simulate a real scenario, instantly following a new event, before the reconnaissance team is deployed. They aim to provide near-real-time simulation results that can help guide emergency response with greater accuracy.

The basic BRAILS framework uses computer vision to automatically pull building details – architectural features such as roofs, windows, and chimneys — from satellite and ground-level images found in Google Maps and merges these with other datasets, such as Microsoft Footprint Data and OpenStreetMap. BRAILS users can also enhance the data with tax records, city surveys and other information to get more accurate assessments.

A crowdsourcing effort has contributed to some of the data labelling. Volunteers with the SimCenter’s Building Detective for Disaster Preparedness project identified specific architectural features of structures, such as garages, roofs and adjacent buildings. They use the data to train additional machine learning modules. The citizen science project was launched in March. Within a few weeks, a thousand volunteers had annotated 20,000 images.

The researchers ran a series of testbeds to determine the accuracy of the AI-based models. Each generated an inventory of a city’s structures and simulated the impact of a hazard-based on historical or plausible events. The team has created testbeds for earthquakes in San Francisco, and hurricanes in Texas and New Jersey.

To train the BRAILS modules and run the simulations, the researchers relied on TACC’s supercomputers, the fastest academic supercomputer in the world, and Maverick 2, a GPU-based system designed for deep learning.

The hazard event simulations such as applying wind fields or ground shaking to thousands or millions of buildings to assess the impact of a hurricane or earthquake require a lot of computing resources and time. For one city-wide simulation, depending on the size, it typically takes hours to run on TACC. Regarding the performance of BRAILS, the accuracy is close to 100% for some models like occupancy. For other modules like roof type, the accuracy is about 90%.

The U.S. has been utilising technology for disaster mitigation, such as developing an Earthquake early-warning system. As reported by OpenGov Asia, The Earthquake early-warning system called ShakeAlert is now available to residents of California, Oregon and Washington after 15 years of planning and development.

It reaches 50 million people in the most earthquake-prone region in the U.S. People in these three states can now receive alerts from a wireless emergency alert system, third-party phone apps, and other technologies. Hence, the system will give them precious seconds of warning before an earthquake hits. The ShakeAlert system aims to facilitate the delivery of public alerts of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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